The first thing an inspector will normally check on the exterior of a home are the wall-covering materials. This includes the siding, trim (around doors and window frames), and flashing. The inspector is going note the material type (vinyl, brick, wood, stucco, aluminum, etc.) and check for signs of rot, misalignment, curling, bowing, potential cracking, paint bubbling, rust, and acceptable clearance between wood siding materials and the ground (normally a minimum of 6”).
Exterior Doors and Windows
The inspector will provide a count of all exterior doors and windows, noting any observable damage including cracks, rot, and decay. Please note that the inspector is only required to inspect items readily accessible and visible from the ground, and is NOT required to operate or inspect screens, storm windows, shutters, etc. (see InterNACHI Standard of Practice).
Stairways, Walkways, and Driveways
There are a few important components for an inspector to check when it comes to the pathways of a home, such as driveways and walkways. Normally, an inspector will check for structural integrity and stability, especially on a home’s stairways. This includes checking for cracked/rotted steps, overgrown vegetation, level terrain, sturdy and secure handrails with acceptable baluster spacing, and that all walkways, driveways, and stairways are pitched away from the home.
Decks and Balconies
Decks and balconies are subject to both the weather and wear-and-tear from home owners. A fresh coat of paint or texturing material can make deck and balcony issues difficult to detect. Inspectors will thoroughly check both the topside and underside for any potential structural issues such as sagging, improper attachment to the home, unacceptable joist hanger installation, rotted boards, and unsecured/substandard guardrails.
Grounds – Vegetation, Drainage, and Property Grading
Poor landscaping, uneven grounds, and poor surface drainage can be very harmful to the structural integrity of a home. The inspector will check for signs of standing water, if the grounds are graded to draw water away from the house, the general state of the landscaping, if any trees or branches are touching the house or hanging over the roof, and the general state of any exterior features such as fences, detached garages, etc.